Feathers and Faults

This morning my husband gave me two feathers he found yesterday. They have bright orange shafts, and at first, I thought these must be dyed. After a little research, I discovered these feathers belonged to a Northern Flicker. I showed him my discovery, and he said he had spotted one of these woodpeckers in the same place.

Though I would be hard pressed to identify as a birder, since moving to the Long Beach Peninsula I am beginning to understand the delight of bird watching. The peninsula sits along a major flyway, attracting hundreds of species of birds each year including everything from raptors to the little Barn Swallows that live above our balcony.

I remember the first time I heard a Bald Eagle here. I knew it wouldn’t sound like the screech you hear in movies, but hearing it in person still surprised me. They make a pleasant, unmistakable call. What most people think of is a Red-Tailed Hawk’s cry. I guess Hollywood thought that a hawk sounded more impressive for the symbol of our nation.

Now that the sun is a little higher, the swallows are swooping to and fro from their nest. My cat is chattering in the window. The world looks quiet outside. In the distance, the ocean is a pale sheet beneath swatches of bluish clouds. Here comes our feathered resident again.

Taking time to get to know the natural world is a valuable practice. It informs us of both the strength and fragility of the world we live in. Here where the winds stir the ocean into giant waves and a little slip could drown our home, we are also quite vulnerable.

Take a walk on the beach, and you’ll understand why our community is passionate about litter. About unleashed dogs disturbing flocks of flighty birds. About un-quenched bonfires too close to the windswept dunes. About those who do not take the time to consider their footprints.

We live in a delicate world. Our actions are catching up to us. Here, on the edge of the continent, you come face to face with precious and rare wildlife that depends on us being mindful of our living.


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